Skyrocketing energy costs have presented real issues for bakeries, who can reduce costs where they can by installing energy efficient ovens and production lines. Editor Caitlin Gittins investigates.
Energy and energy efficiency is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, as we’ve seen soaring energy costs and issues brought about as a consequence of the cost-of-living crisis, pervading everyone’s lives. No one is immune: in the bakery sector, almost triple energy costs have put strain on all businesses. Baking as a process is responsible for high energy consumption, so seeking out energy efficient ovens and production lines presents a short-term solution for bakeries facing skyrocketing energy prices among supply chain disruption and the cost of raw materials.
Energy costs have continually risen, as increasing demand and limited supply have created the perfect storm. Across Europe, gas shortages were experienced, attributed to a prolonged cold winter which drained natural gas storage, and in addition to this, the war in Ukraine had a knock-on effect as Russia is a major supplier of energy. The situation has become particularly dire for the bakery sector, as trade body Scottish Bakers was one of nineteen bodies that wrote to the Scottish government in August 2022 urging for the business rate to be frozen. They also registered a 214% increase in the cost of electricity and a 207% increase in gas, which CEO of Scottish Bakers Alasdair Smith said was an “existential threat” to the bakeries throughout Scotland.
“The early signs of rising input costs began to become evident over a year ago, but nothing prepared our members for the widespread, and dramatic, increases they all face today. My board and members advise me that we are now at a point where many could be facing an existential threat to their survival because of these additional costs,” he wrote.
In September 2022, the British government announced a cap on energy prices for businesses that would last until the end of March; a move that was celebrated by bakeries throughout Britain. This, however, isn’t a long-term solution as the cap lifts in April of this year and bakers face rising costs once more. Although you could argue the onus is not necessarily on bakeries to ensure their costs are down, establishing energy efficient production is certainly one means of addressing this issue.
According to a study carried out by the Carbon Trust, bread production is predominantly made up of high-volume bakeries who are responsible for 80% of bread consumed in the UK. Creating energy savings at the production level proves significant as the high energy consumption of baking can cost a bakery, on average, UK£335k a year, with ovens being responsible for 35 to 45% of total site emissions. Baking ovens are responsible for consuming approximately high amounts of energy used during the process, and by addressing their consumption directly, is a sure way to keep costs down…
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